September: Golden Oldies
Hi y'all, my name is Pilar and I am a filmmaker & lover who has gotten overwhelmed by suggestions at film school parties and didn't know where to start. I'm hoping this column will give you some hors d'oeuvres to chew on and help you discover other great movies to inspire your own filmmaking. This is a safe space no judgement if you haven't seen it, in fact, I'm very jealous of you right now for getting to experience some of this for the first time.
College dorms would have you believe that the only good golden age movies are Breakfast at Tiffany's, Casablanca, and The Godfather. You should see them, but here's some of my picks if you want to bring some new titles from that era into your life. This list is pretty white/cis/hetero which is a bummer. However, once you've seen these movies you'll know what that something special looks like and bring that classical sensibility to a broader, richer landscape of cultural stories.
1. Charade (1963)
Three quarter suspense and one quarter rom-com, Regina (Audrey Hepburn) has men chasing after her for a fortune stolen by her late husband and she doesn't know who to trust. This one is worth watching because there are a ton of surprising twists that will make you feel like a dummy while having the most fun. It's cheeky, a little weird, and just a great wild romp.
2. Harvey (1950)
If you don't love Jimmy Stuart already I don't know how trustworthy you are as a person but Harvey will be the global warming to your cold dead heart. Elwood (what a name, Jimmy Stuart) has an imaginary tall rabbit named Harvey who hangs out with him. This is the OG Lars and The Real Girl but I promise you it's much better. Harvey may (or may not) be real but I'm ready to believe.
3. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Okay, so imagine your ex and a tabloid writer crash your (second) wedding. Maybe this is embarrassing or maybe it's a chance for you to defeat them with your sharp tongue. Tracy (Katherine Hepburn) does this; I love a good battle of the wits and she's doing it in two directions. It's kind of like parental control except for adult men barging in on a wedding, if that makes sense, and it's very fun.
4. Two for the Road (1967)
This is another Audrey Hepburn joint that's better than Breakfast at Tiffany's, in my humble opinion. Imagine a 1960s 500 Days of Summer that tells the story of a marriage exclusively through their travels together and there isn't all the toxic manic pixie dream girl stuff. Joanna (Audrey Hepburn) and Mark (Albert Finney) deal with the bumps in the road that come with travel and love with some really cool jumps in time that involve cool cars passing over the frame and into a new era of their relationship. It's so cool.
5. Some Like it Hot (1959)
Probably the closest to anything queer on this list because it's two guys flee the mob and hide in drag in an all girls band (with Marilyn Monroe!) It's very much a comedy of errors and for the time period it's not as insensitive as you might think with its treatment of drag in general. I don't want to spoil any of it for you because I am jealous that you will experience the joy of this movie for the first time.
6. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
I watched this movie during my first year in Los Angeles while living on Sunset Blvd and I felt very cool. I had been taking a David Lynch seminar, and let me tell ya, if you want to get an inch closer to understanding his work this is a must see as he is also a huge fan. A broke screenwriter (same) Joe (William Holden) is hired to fix an aging silent film star's script so that Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) can return to the screen. Gloria Swanson was a real silent film star and this movie is great for diving into the dark deep end of Hollywood history. Simply put - it's iconic.